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July 31, 2014

Video: Multiple spinouts as winter storm snarls commute

A winter storm blasted its way across central Minnesota Thursday morning, slowing the morning commute to a crawl for many drivers.

Up next: Sharply falling temperatures and bitter cold Thursday night.

Snow fell heavily on slick roads in the metro, cutting visibility and making roadways treacherous. The morning commute was “severely” impacted, the National Weather Service said in a winter storm warning, in effect until noon. Heavy snow was expected through the entire commute, trailing off by late morning.

Check out this MnDOT video of a string of spinouts and fender-benders Thursday morning on Interstate 35 near Highway 8 in Forest Lake:

The interstate was temporarily closed to clear out the mess, Lt. Eric Roeske tweeted.

FOX 9 put together a list of three crazy things that happened during the commute. Aside from the car fire, a woman went into labor while stuck in snowy traffic on Highway 100 at Benton Avenue. An emergency crew whisked her to a St. Louis Park hospital before she had the baby. There was also a water main break under Highway 100 at 26th Street in St. Louis Park, FOX reports.

Here’s a photo of a bus stuck and blocking traffic on Interstate 394 westbound between downtown and the Penn Avenue exit, from BringMeTheNews reader Michael Johnson:

stuck bus

Snow at times fell at a rate of 1 to 2 inches an hour, and a swath of the state could get 4 to 6 inches of snow from west-central Minnesota across the metro to along the U.S. 8 corridor in Wisconsin, the weather service said. Dozens of “difficult driving” reports for the metro were issued on MnDOT’s Twitter feed. Minneapolis declared a snow emergency.

The State Patrol reported at least one injury in a car fire incident shortly after 5 a.m. on U.S. 169 southbound at Interstate 694 in Brooklyn Park, which had traffic backed up:

KARE 11 reports emergency responders pulled a driver from the vehicle. KARE also reports that 169 has since been reopened.

KARE 11’s Jeremiah Jacobsen got a shot of it:

Because of its timing, KSTP meteorologist Dave Dahl gave the storm a “hassle factor” rating of 9 on a scale of 1 to 10. Weather and highway officials were pleading with commuters to drive safely.

This was a common scene Thursday morning – very slow-going. This shot was taken by Rick Kupchella on Highway 62 near the airport:

62 near airport

Had enough of winter yet? Brace yourself, there’s a lot more left. A clipper from the West will whip through southern Minnesota later Thursday into the metro and bring plunging temperatures, the Star Tribune reports. The thermometer reading will fall from the teens Thursday afternoon to 10 below zero overnight, the weather service says. Wind chill readings could fall to 30 below zero early Friday.